Sociolinguistics of French - FR615

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module is designed to make students aware of varieties of modern French other than the standard language. It will focus on issues associated with linguistic inequality and encourage students to investigate variation in contemporary French for themselves. There can be few countries where linguistic prescriptivism is as deep-rooted as it is in France. The Académie française pronounces on le bon usage, while the education system is hostile to regional varieties. To focus exclusively on standard French, however, is to ignore a rich diversity of language at a number of levels. This module will attempt to redress the balance by considering such issues as regional and socio-situational variation within modern French, as well as variation according to sex, class, or age. Other issues to be considered will be the relationship between français régional and dialect, the role of franglais, language policy and attitudes, and the position of French outside France. A background in Linguistics will not be assumed.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

• Linguistic Commentary (500 words) – 20%
• Essay (2,700 words) – 60%
• Presentation (20 minutes) – 20%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading:

Armstrong, N. (2001) Social and Stylistic Variation in Spoken French: A comparative Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Ball, R. (1997) The French-Speaking World: a practical introduction to sociolinguistic issues. Routledge.
Battye, A. & Hintze, M-A & Rowlett, P. (2000). The French Language Today. London: Routledge.
Walter, H. (1994) French Inside and Out. London: Routledge.
Wardhaugh, R. (1998) An Introduction to Sociolinguistics.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Accurately interpret correlations between linguistic data and extralinguistic parameters in French and other languages;
8.2 Design sociolinguistic projects and conduct independent fieldwork;
8.3 Demonstrate critical and informed awareness of variation in French at different levels (e.g. lexicon, syntax, phonology);
8.4 Use descriptive linguistic and sociolinguistic terminology (e.g. variable, indicator, age-grading, stereotype, hypercorrection) with confidence.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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